Master of Arts in Eastern Classics

We are accepting applications for the Fall 2022 term of the Graduate Institute Eastern Classics program. Apply today

In the Master of Arts in Eastern Classics (MAEC) program, students probe the great works that are central to the philosophical, literary, and religious traditions of China, India, and Japan. Through close reading and spirited discussion, students and faculty alike examine each text’s most vital questions—questions that are fundamental to Eastern thought, Asian studies, and human nature. Complete your degree or certificate on campus or online through our low residency program.

The Curriculum

Students pursuing the Master of Arts in Eastern Classics examine the thought of India, China, and Japan while studying either Chinese or Sanskrit to develop a basic grasp of how ideas are expressed in one of the original languages. The goal of the program is not in-depth knowledge of any one tradition, but an introduction to the breadth and richness of these traditions, and an exploration of how the conversation among them lends insight into the fundamental and enduring questions of Asian studies and humankind. All classes are discussion-based.

The Master of Arts in Eastern of Classics is available on the Santa Fe campus or online.*

The Reading List

From Confucius to the Bhagavad Gita to Basho’s poetry, the MAEC covers more than two millennia worth of thought and artistry.

View the reading list

The Classes

Each semester is comprised of two or three classes: the seminar, preceptorial, and language tutorial. All classes have one tutor and fewer than 20 students in order to nurture a collaborative learning environment, creating space for every voice around the table to listen and be heard. The tutor begins with an opening question with which to spark critical engagement with the text; the students then offer reasoned opinions and new questions in response, all the while increasing their understanding of the text and of their own judgements. The class schedule below will be the same for both online or in-person classes.

Master of Arts in Eastern Classics Schedule


The seminar commences with the foundational texts of China and continues chronologically through the major works of India and Japan. Along the way, students will explore the interplay of philosophy and government, religion and myth, history and poetry across the three cultures. Substantial papers are required for the fall and spring semesters.


The ambitious reach of the seminar is complemented by smaller classes called preceptorials. A small group of students study a single work or theme for an eight-week period, not only allowing for more profound inquiry into the preceptorial text itself, but also reinforcing or challenging the readings in the seminar. Students will be expected to write papers for each of the five preceptorials needed to graduate. Preceptorials always include the writings of Sima Qian, The Mahabharata, The Tale of Genji, and two electives.

Language Tutorial

In the fall and spring, students undertake an intensive study of either Sanskrit or Classical Chinese. The goal is not mastery, but to enable students to gain sufficient familiarity with the elements of the language to be able to translate selected short passages from classical texts. Students often report that the language tutorial, while being the most difficult part of their studies, is also the most rewarding.

Complete Your Degree on Campus or Online

The MAEC requires three semesters of study in Santa Fe beginning in the fall semester.  Students can also complete the program online through our low residency program. They will experience a deeply personal education rooted in the St. John’s tradition of great books and thoughtful exploration alongside their fellow students and our experienced tutors, from anywhere in the world. There are no prerecorded lessons, no lectures, no asynchronous instruction, and no overenrolled classes.

The low residency program will also require you to visit campus for two long weekends, usually in August for an orientation and at graduation the following August. Contact Graduate Admissions (gradadmissions(at) for more information.

Classes meet in the late afternoon and evenings to accommodate students who work part time.

You can also schedule an online conversation with program leadership or book a class observation.